3 November 2020
I wanted to write to you at this time about your Confirmation which we will be able to celebrate next Spring, God willing. I know that the current Coronavirus situation makes planning difficult and some of you may be wondering about how we will celebrate Confirmation.
The first thing that I want to do is to reassure you and your parents that we will celebrate Confirmation, according to the Public Health Guidelines, in as normal a way as we can. I hope to begin in late February and the ceremonies for 2021 will be outside the celebration of Mass. It also seems certain that you will only be able to bring your parents/ guardians with you and your sponsor. However, like so many other things, this will depend on public health advice and it is difficult to plan too far in advance.
At this stage, while Confirmation is some months away, I would like to encourage you to undertake four tasks.
The first of these is to think about what name you will take for your Confirmation. This name should be Christian and should be the name of a Saint or a family member who inspired you in the Christian life. Many students take the name of a Grandparent that they were or are close to or another family member. Other students take a saint’s name. Many of the saints are chosen and invoked for particular reasons. For example, in the past year, I have met students who took Anthony after Saint Anthony, who is the Patron Saint of things that are lost, Lucy after Saint Lucy, the Patron Saint of eye problems and Cecilia, after the saint of that name who is the patron saint of musicians. There is a good website, www.catholicsaints.info where you can search through saints that might be of help to you.
As you know, you must also choose a sponsor. A sponsor is someone who is already con-firmed and over sixteen years and who has faith and would be a support to you in your own faith and as you go through your teenage years. Some students have chosen grandparents, uncles, bigger brothers or sisters and family friends. Your sponsor should be someone who is kind to you and will support you and who will also help you to practice your faith and inspire you by their actions. I look forward to meeting your sponsor with you at the Confirmation ceremony.
You may also have heard about the Confirmation pledge. This is an optional pledge that many students take at their Confirmation to abstain from alcohol and drugs. As you know, there are many temptations for young people like yourselves to take alcohol and other substances which can harm or even destroy life. The pledge is a promise to stay away from these until one is eighteen years old but it also is a way of asking the Lord’s support in helping you to stay away from these things. I would ask you to discuss the pledge at school with your teachers and also at home with your parents. It is optional but I would encourage it. Too many young people like yourselves have been hurt by alcohol and drugs.
Confirmation is a Sacrament and I would ask you to spend some time on the religious nature of Confirmation. In Confirmation, your faith and membership of the church is ‘confirmed’ and you take responsibility for your own faith in terms of praying, attending Mass and the Sacraments and living the kind of life that God wants us to live. You could start that now! A good way of preparing for Confirmation would be to say a prayer each night and to attend Mass when these restrictions are lifted. I know that your parents and grandparents would be able to support you in this task too.
I suggest the above to help you to make the most of your Confirmation so that it will be a joyful celebration of your faith and will be a happy memory and have meaning for you as you grow older. I hope to contact the various parishes later with possible dates. While they will depend on public health advice, we will celebrate your Confirmation next year and I look forward to meeting you then.
In the meantime, I hope you, your family and your teachers and classmates stay safe and healthy and when you offer your prayers to the Lord, remember me too and those who are sick, lonely and suffering at this time.
With every good wish and blessing,
Most Reverend Tom Deenihan
Bishop of Meath